Houston Grand Opera has spent this past year recruiting new talent, and the latest is Maureen Zoltek – with another new hire expected in August.
The company recently announced that Zoltek has been appointed Music Director of the HGO Studio, its highly competitive and acclaimed training program for rising opera artists. She begins her role in September 2022.
HGO describes Zoltek as an “active proponent of new works” with a “commitment to emerging artists.” She is currently assistant conductor, vocal coach, and orchestral keyboardist at San Francisco Opera, as well as a faculty member at the Music Academy of the West.
Zoltek has served on the music staff for world premieres operas by Mark Adamo, John Adams, and Bright Sheng. She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Manhattan School of Music and Master’s Degree in piano performance and musicology from Roosevelt University.
In Houston, Zoltek will work closely with HGO Studio Director Brian Speck to lead the program, serve as a member of the company’s casting committee, and oversee programming for HGO Studio’s recital series.
“Artists compete to join the program because it provides personalized, intensive training that prepares them to perform at the highest levels, alongside the best in the business,” said Speck in a statement. “Under Maureen’s exceptional mentorship, our HGO Studio artists will be positioned for success on stages across the world.”
Zoltek is the fourth addition to HGO’s leadership this year. The company also announced a new Board Chair (Claire Liu), a new Director of Community & Learning (Jennifer Bowman), and a new Composer-in-Residence (Joel Thompson) in recent months.
While departures have left some of these positions open, HGO says the changes are also a sign of commitment to fostering talent in the industry and advancing the artform.
“It’s a new era at HGO!” said Khori Dastoor, HGO General Director and CEO, in an email to Houston Arts Journal. Dastoor herself joined the company in August 2021 as she transitioned from her previous role at Opera San Jose, then fully taking over this past January.
“Since joining the organization our priority has been to sharpen our entire strategic focus,” she said. “A huge part of that is building the right team, and over the past year we’ve put everything we have into launching an exhaustive and wide-ranging recruitment initiative.”
HGO says it also plans to announce a Chief Marketing and Experience Officer in August – a newly created position (previously named Chief Audience Officer), whose search began earlier this year. The role is crucial for the organization’s strategic focus and emphasis on creating lasting experiences for audiences, says HGO.
“It’s essential that we hire arts leaders who are not just the best the industry has to offer, but fervent believers in our mission of bringing world-class artistic experiences to everyone in this city,” Dastoor said.